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The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective
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The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective

Author: Bruce Holoubek

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Welcome to “The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective” with your host Bruce Holoubek. Bruce believes that the degree to which leaders invest in the development of their people as a whole has an exponential effect on both the growth of that individual and the growth of the organization in which they work. When done properly, it creates truly mutually meaningful work engagements. Your looking glass into the mechanics of that relationship starts here. - You can learn more about Bruce and the work he does with leaders at
66 Episodes
We’ve all heard it said that the shortest path between two points is a straight line. That’s undoubtedly true, but what we often fail to realize is that the BEST path is not always the most direct or straight path. Sometimes it’s the bends and turns in the path that brings the rich experience and learning that we need the most for carrying out our life’s work. My guest, Max Duckworth has taken his own winding path on his way to filling the important role he does now. It’s one that’s taken him from particle physics to environmental policy, to energy commodity trading, to impact investing. Max is now an impact investor and co-founder of Masa Partners, which in his words, attempts to invest in companies that make a positive impact on the world while making a profit at the same time. Putting together the varied lessons life has to teach us as we walk our winding paths enables each of us to move into opportunities we didn’t even know existed when we started the journey, and often, the world is better for it. Join me to explore the idea on this episode. Impact investing from a people perspective Impact investing is focused on making financial investments in companies that are taking on serious problems for the betterment of the world and mankind. It aims to be profitable through investment in companies that are making a difference — not just making money. Max says that his approach to choosing the companies his investment group will fund is focused around four “P”s: Problem — People — Product and Profit, in that order. It’s the people part of that progression that was especially intriguing to me, so I asked Max to elaborate on that piece. He says that he spends a significant amount of time assessing the founders and team of the company he’s considering an investment with. In his mind, he’s asking, “Is the group capable from a business standpoint and from an execution standpoint?” In other words, are they the kind of people who have both the skill and drive to get their product made and marketed well?  While it’s admittedly a subjective call, some of the things that go into answering those questions have to do with whether or not the team members have a personal connection to the mission. If they do, through life experience or history with the problem, they are more likely to be all in and will see the project through, and thus, create a profitable outcome. This assessment step is something savvy leaders could adapt and tweak it to help them create mutually meaningful work engagements for their teams. Hiring and retaining people who are personally connected to the projects you’re working on could dramatically impact the meaning your team members derive from their work and fuel your organization’s forward momentum over the long haul. When COVID hit, impact companies took the lead in caring for their people Though small and struggling to use their limited resources well, many early-stage companies that Max works with made what I’d consider the right choice when the COVID pandemic hit.  These mostly young leaders, by and large, considered the well-being and overall happiness of their employees as one of the essentials they must maintain during the pandemic. In my mind, this is an example of leadership done right. Perhaps it’s the focus on “impact” these founders already possess that enables them to see human capital as the primary consideration for the longevity of their companies. No matter the reason, I couldn’t help but say, “Well done” when I heard this news. Hiring is one of the most significant growth pains of early-stage companies As early-stage companies start to gain traction it can seem like a thousand things require attention all at the same time. One of the most crucial of the puzzle pieces that have to be sorted is hiring. Finding and hiring the right people can be a significant challenge. There's a need for more than simply matching the right skills and resume with the tasks at hand, which are many. It’s about drive, commitment to the cause, and chemistry with the team as much as anything else. The impact founders who keep these in clear view without caving to the sense of urgency they often feel will be able to find the people who can move their team forward, faster. It’s one example of how the creation of mutually meaningful work engagements begins at the very beginning when potential team members are vetted.  Outline of This Episode [1:03] Why a straight line is not always the best line [2:23] Impact investing — positive impact coupled with profitability [11:28] Max’s first angel investment and his foray into impact investing [18:10] His belief in win-win situations for life and investing [26:15] How decision are made regarding impact investments [37:01] How the COVID pandemic drove companies to get more done in less time [43:03] A timely example of Max’s first investment partner reaching a point of success [46:39] Why growth and hiring are huge obstacles for early stage companies [52:52] Think about the broader ramifications of your investment choices Resources & People Mentioned Constellation Energy The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Abingdon Health - one of Max’s early success stories Goods Unite Us - another of Max’s supported companies Connect with Max Duckworth Connect with Max on LinkedIn Max’s website: Follow Max on Twitter: @MaxRDuck Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
“The obscure we see eventually, the completely obvious, it seems takes longer.” ~ Edward R. Murrow.   Edward R. Murrow was a broadcast journalist and war correspondent who gained prominence during World War II. His statement points out something we all know, the obvious things don’t always get our attention right away. It happens to all of us. It even happens at work. We're busy, we're preoccupied, and mistakes are made. Sometimes we are lucky to have someone witness our fumbled actions or statements and we can get a good laugh from it. Other times it bites us squarely on the ass. One of the things which may seem obvious to you once you hear it is how to create meaningful connection with those you lead in the workplace. That’s the topic of this episode. Before you can create a mutually meaningful work engagement, you must do this Again, it sounds obvious but before you can engage in a mutually meaningful relationship with a team member, you have to understand what would make that connection meaningful for them. For people to willingly share with you what makes a work engagement meaningful for them, there first must be trust. Many of you already have that level of trust with your employees, but what about the new person? How do you develop a higher sense of trust with them straight out of the gate? In this episode I give you a number of quick tips on how to it, so be sure you listen all the way through. To build trust with your team, learn to say, “I don’t know.” During your first conversations with a new employee, there will likely be something they ask to which you are reasonably sure of the answer. But resist the temptation to feel that you have to give a definite answer. Say, “I don't know,” if you must, and follow it up with, “but I will find out and get you the answer by X time.”  Why is this important? Because conveying that you are reasonably sure puts the trust factor at risk. To them, “reasonably sure” might be perceived as the real deal and you’re then on the hook if it turns out not to be the case.  Leaders must learn how to appropriately ask personal questions of their team members I always get hate mail with this one, but nevertheless, I stand by my experience. I’ve discovered that it is important for the employee to know that as a leader, you're interested in their success and development as more than just an employee. The way to do that is to ask questions about things not related to work. This too is rather obvious, but not everyone agrees. You can ask about their non-work goals and objectives and how you can help them attain those.  I’ll write more on this at a later date, but leaders these days feel like they walk a tightrope when it comes to determining what they can and cannot ask their employees about their lives outside of work. I suggest you use common sense, be compassionate, and you'll be just fine. Do your team members understand your plan for their development? It’s important that every employee knows that you are intentional about your role in helping them develop and grow. Show them a general 10,000-foot plan for how they will be developed, challenged, and grow. It’s a matter of giving them evidence that you are invested in their growth and that it will bring mutual rewards for them and the organization. Use this time to also show them the high-level plan of the organization. They will appreciate being in the loop. If you are a top decision-maker experiencing challenges relating to this topic or any developmental topic, then give me a call and I will give you 20 minutes to confidentially discuss your situation and help you come up with a path to move you forward. My phone number is (715) 661-0364. Outline of This Episode [0:45] The painful truth of the obvious things missing our notice [1:58] What makes a mutually meaningful work engagement meaningful? [6:23] The obvious need for trust in work engagements and what it takes to foster it Resources & People Mentioned Call Bruce to discuss your situation - 715-661-0364 Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK  
These days the word “authentic” is bandied about quite a bit, almost so much that it’s lost its meaning. That’s why it’s refreshing when you get the opportunity to chat with a leader who truly embodies the meaning of the word. Carl Atwell is an individual with whom I had that sort of conversation recently. He’s an “all-in” guy, which is one of the main reasons he’s so authentic. Carl doesn’t believe there’s any reason or point to playing games or allowing organizational culture to go sideways. So he talks straight and with incredible authenticity, and he does so for the sake of making his organization of better service to customers and more meaningful for his team members. Now THAT is a mutually meaningful work engagement! Carl is the owner and President of Gempler’s, a farm and home company that he says is an “81-year-old ecommerce company.” During our conversation, we discussed how Carl made the decision to purchase Gempler’s, the experience that prepared him for the opportunity, the challenges and successes he’s experienced at the helm so far, and why customer service and company culture are such important things to him. What the leader of an 81-year-old company can teach us about organizational culture The people who buy products from Gempler’s are those salt-of-the-earth individuals who know what it means to work hard to produce actual fruit from their labors. They are farmers, ranchers, landscapers, and other outdoor workers who do honest work for an honest wage. It’s these customers who motivate Carl to make Gempler’s the very best it can be. Though his company is not growing the food or raising the cattle, Carl is proud to serve those who are in ways that make it possible. It’s an honor he doesn’t take lightly. That attitude is one he diligently strives to pass to his employees. He wants them to see how their work matters, why the things they do are not only supporting themselves but also those who fuel the food supply of a nation. It’s an admirable ambition and one that demonstrates how good leadership is essential to the attitudes and behaviors of those within an organization. When modeled well, meaning and purpose through work can be caught as well as taught. How small to midsize companies can out-Amazon, Amazon Shortly after Carl took the reins at Gempler’s he led the organization through one of the most far-reaching and significant pivots the company had ever made, moving from a long-standing, catalog-sales model to an e-commerce brand. With their primary competition being Amazon and Wal-Mart, Carl knew he had his work cut out for him. Not only did he have to get past the barrier that the company’s long-standing catalog-only sales model represented, he had to do so in a way that not only retained customers but also made Gempler’s an attractive alternative to Amazon. His approach to the issue was ingenious: Gempler’s could do all the things Amazon does well — great customer service, free shipping, quality products — but also do something Amazon can’t do well, be a company that people want to support by applying an authentic, real-people approach. That would make customers truly enjoy engaging with them. His approach paid off. Gempler’s made the transition to e-commerce quickly and without losing many customers. And top-down customer service is one of their largest areas of focus. Top-down customer service sets the tone for an authentic company culture Companies can say anything they want about themselves on their own web properties. Whether the claims made are to be believed depends on either the gullibility or diligence of the visitor. But when I visited the Gempler’s website I noticed something that told me it was an organization that was doing more than talking a big talk. The President himself posts his private email address on the website and solicits feedback from customers. That’s unheard of and is one of the things that enables Carl to keep his finger on the pulse of the people the company serves. When I asked him about this he said that though it’s a practice that consumes a significant amount of time, it’s important to him that he replies to every email he receives. He wants Gempler’s customers to know that their needs and concerns are taken seriously and that it's a concern that begins at the top. This approach speaks volumes to the team members at Gempler’s, demonstrating that customer needs are among the most important priorities of the company. Carl shares stories about employees who were concerned that the company stayed open when the worldwide COVID pandemic began in early March 2020. Why were they so concerned? It wasn't just about their own paychecks, it was because they believed the company needed to be open to provide customers with the things they needed. That is proof that mutually meaningful work engagements are happening at Gempler’s, and it’s an example to be followed by other organizations. How does your organization stack up? Is your leadership committed to a top-down customer service approach that inspires your employees to take customer service seriously? Outline of This Episode [2:25] The 83 year old e-commerce company Carl chose to purchase [16:37] What it takes to do true customer service [25:07] Successes Carl is particularly proud of at Gempler’s [32:08] Challenges faced by Carl and the Gempler’s team most recently [36:02] The most significant defining moment in Carl’s life [47:55] Why the customers make Carl’s role meaningful to him [54:15] Carl’s top two takeaways for top decision-makers listening Connect with Carl Atwell Gempler’s Website Resources Mentioned In This Episode Land’s End River’s End Trading Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
When you hear the phrase “change the world,” which seems to be prevalent these days, do you tend to think of grand things, things that move the needle in big ways? Perhaps the type of things that come to mind are finding a cure for cancer or establishing a context in which world peace can be attained. If that’s how you think of world change, you’re not alone. But let me challenge you to think of it differently. You and I can change the world through smaller but no less significant actions, such as positively contributing to the development of the individuals around us. If you’re an organizational leader or top decision-maker, you have an especially fertile field in which to plant that type of seed and the harvest you might reap could be incredible over the course of your career. This episode introduces the concept of the Mutually Meaningful Work Engagement — a method by which organizational leaders can work toward the positive development of the people within their organizations, and increase the profitability and success of the organization at the same time. Working as a paramedic opened my eyes to the need for Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements I still remember my very first call as a paramedic. The call came in and I responded, driving to a rural location to find the victim’s son in the front yard raking leaves. It seemed odd, even out of place, but I had a job to do. I assessed the situation and went inside, making my way through piles of trash and filth to find the woman in need of assistance on the bathroom floor, lying in a pool of mixed liquids. It was a disturbing experience, but I was able to compose myself, focus on the task at hand, and stabilize the woman for transport to a local care facility. At home that evening, I wondered, “What was the point?” The woman seemed to live in pitiful conditions and with people who appeared not to care about her well being at all. Was it even worth it to save her life if that’s all she had to look forward to? But upon hearing that she made a full recovery and was doing well, I experienced a feeling I’ll never forget. I had helped someone in a significant way, and it felt very good. My journey over the years has led me to see that we all desire to feel that way, it’s part of why we work in the first place. We not only need to provide for ourselves we also want to contribute to things that make a difference for other people. Keep listening to hear how my experiences led me to envision and champion the concept I refer to as the Mutually Meaningful Work Engagement. Professional development and personal development merge within MMEs I believe that organizational leaders should be setting their sites higher than just professional development. Don’t get me wrong, professional development is great and organizations that intentionally contribute to the PD of their team members are doing a great thing. But even more powerful are organizations and leaders that take seriously the very real opportunity to help their organization’s leaders grow personally as they grow professionally — even if that means the person outgrows the organization in time. A Mutually Meaningful Work Engagement is beneficial on both sides of the relationship exactly because of this broader perspective. The individual receives coaching that could rival that of any professional life coach, while at the same time receiving true on-the-job training and development on a professional level. When the two are integrated, amazing things happen for both the individual and the organization they serve. It only makes sense… when the team members feel supported and empowered, they contribute to the organization’s goals at a higher level. The scale and scope of a Mutually Meaningful Work Engagement is bigger Stepping past the boundaries of professional development alone enables an organization to address the real needs and desires of those who have joined their teams. As a result, the organization has the opportunity to invest in team members that uniquely suit its needs while also experiencing the bottom-line benefits every organization must attain. Let’s quickly look at both sides of that equation... ORGANIZATIONAL BENEFITS Grow your bottom line Professional development becomes an accountable endeavor Greater ability to keep your good people Benefit from and leverage the short-timers on your team BENEFITS TO THE INDIVIDUAL Truly great professional development The opportunity for empowering and integrated personal development Feeling understood and appreciated Long term life skills that enrich their lives and the world These are just some of the benefits to the proper implementation and consistent application of MMEs. I invite you to listen to this entire episode to gain a deeper understanding of how MMEs can happen in your organization. Stick around to the end to hear how my organization, Contracted Leadership, could assist your organization in developing and implementing your own unique MMEs. Outline of This Episode [1:10] What does it take to REALLY change the world? [2:01] The power of contributing to the positive formation and development one person [8:32] Why should leaders strive to create mutually meaningful work engagements? [11:35] How individuals in the organization benefit from mutually meaningful work engagements Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
As a top decision-maker, you know the difficult balance between caring for team members in a personal way and maintaining proper professionalism with your team. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to this difficult issue, but I do believe there are guidelines that can serve to maintain the balance in effective and fruitful ways. My guest on this episode of the podcast is Jason Adamany, CEO and Founder of IT Service provider, Adesys, a company he started while he was still in college. Naturally, coming right out of college Jason was anything but a seasoned leader, but by applying a growth mindset to his leadership as well as to his company he's gleaned a wealth of personal experience that is ripe with takeaways on this topic. Modern business challenges brought on by COVID-19 Imagine this scenario: Your company’s workforce includes individuals who have worked for the company for many years and for the entire company’s existence, those team members have worked together, face to face, in the same facility. Then comes COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that has forced companies to do business differently, by going entirely remote. Most of you don’t have to imagine the scenario because you’re living it. COVID-19 is no-doubt putting your leadership skills to the test, forcing you to learn new ways of cultivating and maintaining team culture in spite of the "new normal" of remote work. Jason Adamany says his entire staff is working remotely now. He’s finding it difficult to foster the team environment in the ways he's used to, especially as new team members come on. He hopes that most of his team will come back on-site before long, but the unknown and ongoing aspects of the current situation place more demands on team members and as a result, the company. He's learning to stay flexible and seek to understand. As team members juggle the situations COVID-19 has thrust upon them, such as their children being participants in digital classrooms while staying home, company leaders have to be able to flex with the changing needs of their employees while still turning a profit. One of the primary tools leaders must employ in a situation like this clear and compassionate communication. Listening empowers leadership and encourages the team When top leaders care for their teams effectively, team members are then able to care for clients in unprecedented ways. That’s the philosophy Jason Adamany has about the type of relationship leaders need to develop with team members. It’s a difficult balance that has no cookie-cutter solutions, however, there are many ways leaders can move in this direction, and all of them begin with effective listening: Solicit feedback from your team Make sure your team can contribute in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals Keep in mind that each team member will define that differently Work diligently to create an environment team members want to be in Do the work needed to create happy team members Communicate clearly that you value and understand that they have a life outside of work  The line between professionalism and entering into team member’s lives How involved should a leader be in the lives of their team members? Many would say that it’s inappropriate and potentially improper for leaders to ask too many questions about the private lives of their team members. Others feel they can’t lead their team members effectively if they don’t know what those individuals are experiencing in life outside of work hours. Jason Adamany says that his approach is to take the issue on a case by case basis. Each individual on a team will have a unique comfort level when it comes to their leaders knowing the details of their private lives. So take it slow and easy. While the best way to be there for employees is to seek to understand what’s going on outside of work, you may have to simply make it known that you are willing to listen and willing to help when and where your team members feel comfortable with that level of sharing. This is a tricky balance but a clear way that positive team culture, loyalty, and long-term commitment can be fostered. Listen to this episode to hear more! Outline of This Episode The reason today’s guest impressed me with his humility and modesty [0:55] How Jason’s upbringing led him to his current entrepreneurial career [2:31] His first IT company started during his college years [4:20] The fearful points of starting and building a business of your own [6:13] Empowering his team to take on more ownership and serve at a higher level [10:26] An amazing product Jason’s company stumbled upon [14:59] The challenges presented by Coronavirus for remote teams [19:16] The formative influences on Jason’s leadership today [27:01] The challenges of leaders knowing their employee’s life situations [32:08] Resources & People Mentioned Previous episode with Luke Perkerwicz Connect with Jason Adamany Jason’s company Adesys Follow Jason on LinkedIn The virtual receptionist Jason’s team created Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
One of the distinct things about the way we here at Contracted Leadership approach leadership and leadership development is the concept of “mutually meaningful work engagements.” It’s a hallmark of what we do because it is many times THE difference between average organizations and stellar ones, as well as the primary means by which individuals in the organization attain fulfillment and satisfaction in their work. This episode briefly defines the mutually meaningful work engagement from both the organizational perspective and the perspective of the individual employed by the organization. When you get what this concept is and understand how to implement it, you’ll lead your organization to a higher level of performance and significance. Work engagements can and should be meaningful in both directions A stereotypical view of employment is that of the grind — the resistant or even resentful daily trudge into the office, the mundane and monotonous execution of pre-defined and many times meaningless tasks, and the impatient watching of the clock until it’s time to return home. This perception implies that the organization is attaining its goals (meaning) but that the individual is not finding meaning. They are only a cog in the wheel that makes the goals of the organization possible. That’s a pessimistic viewpoint to have, but it is tragic if it represents reality.  We at Contracted Leadership believe that’s not only an archaic perception, but also one that should never be a reality. One of our primary goals is to help organizations and individuals find true meaning, and we do believe that it goes both ways. Yes, the organization should fulfill its end goals through the work and participation of the individual, but the individual should also find meaning in their work. We not only believe it should be this way, we believe that it can be this way. How are work engagements meaningful for organizations? When it comes to what makes for a meaningful work engagement for an organization, the answer depends on the type of organization. For-profit organizations clearly assess “meaning” in terms of profitability. Every one of these organizations is in the business of making money, making more money, and continuing to make more money. But they may also be aiming to innovate in ways that improve people’s lives, provide services that better human experiences, and significantly contribute to the lives of those they employ. Non-profit organizations are pursuing a cause or purpose that governs their sense of meaning. Though income is a consideration, it’s not the primary goal. The “why” behind the need for income is what fuels the non-profit organization.  Can individuals truly find meaning in work engagements? Many people only dream about the things they could do for a living that might bring purpose and meaning to their existence. Some go so far as to pursue those dreams through entrepreneurial or non-profit activities of their own choosing. But the vast majority of people lack the drive and vision for such endeavors. Does that mean they will forever miss out on meaning when it comes to the work they do week to week? We don’t believe so. Individuals can receive a great deal of meaning and satisfaction from even the most mundane or repetitive activities if they are led into it by those they work for and with. While work engagements only become mutually meaningful if both the individual and the organization are working toward that end, organizational leaders bear a particular responsibility for it becoming a reality. Average success can be turned into stellar success on both organizational and individual levels when leaders assume a facilitator role, serving as the connective tissue between the work being done and the purpose and meaning behind it. Are mutually meaningful work engagements possible? Many believe it’s not possible for work engagements to truly be mutually meaningful. The contention is that one side of the equation or the other will receive meaning but that both will not. We at Contracted Leadership vehemently disagree. This approach of pursuing mutually meaningful work engagements works. We have seen organizations grow considerably, develop cultures that team members love to be a part of, and accomplish both short and long term objectives. We’ve also seen individuals grow personally and professionally, many times receiving promotions or additional responsibility more quickly. As well, because of the personal and professional development that’s happening in the mutually meaningful work engagement process, new positions and opportunities often open up for these individuals, and careers take on greater momentum. Listen to hear more about the mutually meaningful work engagement and to understand how you can begin making your work engagements more fulfilling for your organization and the individuals within it. Outline of This Episode [0:55] What exactly IS a mutually meaningful work engagement? [2:01] What makes engagements meaningful for organizations? [3:28] Appropriate ways that leaders can to lean into the lives of their team members [5:33] The facilitator must be the leader. Here’s why [7:03] Outcomes of this approach that demonstrate its effectiveness Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Every Senior Leader should be aiming to replicate themselves by developing future leaders from within their organizations. It’s a proven way to increase team ownership, improve existing teams and structures, and to build a stronger organization over the long haul. One of the primary ways this kind of leadership development happens is through living out the organization's values consistently. You can engrave a set of company values on the wall, but it’s quite another thing to live them out consistently. In a family-owned business, the impact of that kind of consistency is multiplied. Jim Hartlieb is a seasoned leader whose name has come up again and again when the subject of company culture and values comes up. He is part of the leadership team that has developed a values-based culture at First Business Bank of Madison, Wisconsin. First Business Bank’s clientele is primarily made up of family-owned businesses that have passed down through the generations. Join us for this lively conversation about leadership, the development of organizational values and their consistent implementation, and how to use those values to provide a mutually meaningful work engagement for everyone. Leading by example is crucial when developing future leaders A clear set of organizational values can be empowering and clarifying, but only if those in leadership make it their business to embody the values consistently and with integrity. Leaders can’t expect those they are leading to embrace and uphold the company's values if the leader’s own behavior demonstrates that the values are, in fact, not so important. “In our culture, we believe that leading by example and making sure your actions match your words, are a big deal.” That’s how Jim describes the attitude at First Business Bank. “That really starts at the top with our CEO, Corey Chambas, and really all through the organization. You can see it walking around every day at work in the meetings that we have as a team and then how we interact with clients.” Developing leaders in any organization will inevitably take on the same attitude as those who nurture and develop them as future leaders. That’s why leading by example is so critical. A helpful question to ask yourself as you develop future leaders is, “Am I the kind of leader my organization needs five or ten more of?” The Golden Rule of leadership development Most of us have heard of the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It’s a great principle for life that translates into leadership perfectly. As you work with developing leaders, consider this principle as you provide feedback, encouragement, correction, and direction. How would YOU want to be treated in each of those contexts? Your answer to the question will prove extremely helpful. Jim says, “It goes back to one of the golden rules: treat people the way you want to be treated. The way I like to get feedback is to just tell me and have it be actionable feedback that I can learn from and improve on in the future. So, if that’s how I want to be treated then that’s how I should interact with the people that I manage on a day to day basis. To me, it’s just common sense that if you expect someone to do the right thing, not only do they need to understand it but when you see them veering off the path, you need to be able to give them that feedback in a way that they can correct their behavior in the future. It seems pretty basic but you don’t always see it played out that way.” Helping future leaders prepare for inevitable leadership challenges One of the most challenging leadership situations is when an upcoming leader steps into a position where they will be expected to lead people who have years of experience in the industry and perhaps are much older. Are you doing everything you can to help your future leaders prepare for those situations so they can respond with the savvy and wisdom it takes to fully enlist those people on their teams? Jim Hartlieb of First Business Bank tells the story of his first leadership position. He’d moved from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin, and took over a leadership role where long-time employees, many of them significantly older than him, were on his team. He was literally the “young whippersnapper from Chicago,” and was tasked with leading these precious people who had been in banking longer than he’d been alive. Jim recognized the challenge before him and had the wisdom to ask his wife’s Uncle, a successful businessman near the age of his new team members for his advice. The advice he received was golden. “Don’t make that be a factor. Focus on the issues at hand, be prepared. Use common sense, use empathy and everything kind of works out for itself.” He says that advice not only served him during that time of transition but has also served as a wonderful guide throughout his career. Advice for future leaders of family-owned companies Family-owned businesses are unique in that the mantle of leadership is most often passed down from one generation to the next rather than passed along to an executive who has come in from outside the company. In a scenario of this type, it is even more important that the development of upcoming leaders happens effectively. Having the same last name as the company’s founder or current leader is clearly not an adequate qualification for leadership. I asked Jim what advice he would give to those who are overseeing the development of upcoming leaders in family businesses. What he shared was both a common-sense approach and a perspective that lends valuable insight, since many of the customers of the bank where Jim serves as President are family-owned businesses. 1 - Upcoming leaders who are destined to take on the leadership of their family’s business should work in another business first. Whether this is right out of college or in some volunteer capacity, the experience gained through working in a different organization, under different leaders provides much-needed perspective and experience. 2 - Current leaders in a family-owned business need to allow upcoming leaders to fail. Protecting future leaders from the harsh but needful reality of failure is unwise. They not only need to learn how to handle failure personally but also how to lead others from failure to success. 3 - Ensure that upcoming leaders understand what change management is all about. It doesn’t matter what industry the family-owned business is in, the business itself and the way business is done today is different than it was even five to ten years ago. That will continue to be the case moving forward, so the next generation has to be able to embrace change and to surround themselves with people who can help them handle the change that will inevitably come. As you work toward the eventual appointment of future leaders in your organization, you’ll be well-served by pondering and applying the advice shared here. The best leadership transitions happen successfully because thoughtful attention has been given to them. Outline of This Episode [3:55] How a tired maxim of modern business is brought to life by First Business Bank [8:32] The exciting thing about leadership, from Jim’s perspective [10:46] Jim’s biggest leadership challenge ever [17:50] The most common struggles of emerging leaders [22:01] Common challenges businesses today are facing [28:45] Jim’s prediction about the challenge of bring Connect with Jim Hartlieb Follow Jim on LinkedIn Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
It has been some time since I last published an episode of this podcast and I apologize for that. I decided back in late February to take a short break and then come back with an updated format for the podcast. But life — or should I say, “death” — interrupted. There’s nothing like a crisis to distract your focus Beginning in late February, my father began another battle with cancer and over the following months the situation became dire. Some of you know the difficulty of coming alongside siblings who have tirelessly cared for an ailing parent to help any way you can. It’s a part of life I would never wish on anyone. After undergoing two significant operations, my father died on April 24th and was buried with military honors. If you stop to think about that time in history, you’ll recognize that it was right in the middle of the worldwide COVID-19 situation. I am very grateful that in spite of the difficulties of planning a memorial service under the necessary restrictions, he was still able to be remembered with military honors that he so rightly earned during World War II.  That’s where I feel I lost my focus… Maybe I should say I became ultra focused, first on my father and then on my family and all of the things involved with the loss of both parents. There is no doubt, some of you would have navigated the situation better or differently than I did but I have learned a lot from the experience — and it has certainly given me a different perspective on so many things, some of those I will share with you in future episodes.  Restarting after that loss of focus As I record this episode, I do so with a very clear intention in mind. As I restart the podcast I am also reformatting the way in which I will record and produce content in this medium. Current listeners will recall that this podcast is ultimately about creating mutually meaningful work engagements. The way to achieve mutually meaningful work engagements is to develop leaders who know how to create those kinds of experiences for the teams they lead. That’s why the word “development” is so prominent in the name of this podcast. Let me be clear, the concept of a “mutually meaningful work engagement” is not another of those fluff-filled phrases so common in leadership literature and philosophy. The way I think of the concept is… It refers to the importance of growing organizations and developing people, especially leaders It imparts very objective responsibilities for all parties and when done, will provide verifiable rewards to all parties involved Even though a few things are changing, I fully intend to stay focused on this issue. It’s the heartbeat of what I and my organization do. What you can expect going forward As this podcast relaunches, beginning with this episode, you will notice two distinct changes. 1 - I will almost exclusively be interviewing people who are top decision-makers for SMEs and publishing those episodes every other publication. During these conversations we will discuss their experiences, challenges, successes, and will even delve into some funny personal questions, with an emphasis on the developmental aspects of their growth leadership experiences. 2 - Every other episode will be a “solo” episode, featuring yours truly. I’m going to begin by explaining what a mutually meaningful work engagement is, move on to the consideration of why it is vital in organizations large and small, and then move on to uncovering how to create them through effective leadership development. Given these two options, you will have the choice of listening only to really great guest episodes, or to the specifics of creating usually meaningful work engagements. My suggestion is that you listen to both.  A peek at what’s coming The next episode I intend to publish will feature another very special guest. He is someone who has been referenced a fair amount by other guests who have already joined me on the podcast, and he is someone for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. He is a leader’s leader.  My guest will be Jim Hartlieb, President of First Business Bank. I encourage you to be watching for that episode. It is a fun, refreshing, intriguing, and down-to-earth conversation that provides a tremendous amount of insight into leadership and life. I want to thank all of you who extended thoughts to me during the last couple months. Thank you for being there for me and know that should you ever find yourself in the same situation, I would love the opportunity to be available to you. Just let me know. Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
There are many strategic planning frameworks out there, but how many of them have as a key component, an emphasis on building mutually meaningful work engagements? From my point of view, this is an oft missing but vital piece of the planning that organizations of any size should be doing. What does it matter if the strategic planning framework you choose is the latest and greatest but your team members don’t feel it provides a way for them to be actively and enthusiastically involved in its implementation? My guest on this episode is a business consultant who has found her sweet spot in helping businesses work out strategic plans that not only help the company refine its vision for what it delivers and for whom, but also to communicate and implement the plan in a way that energizes team members. Michelle Neujahr is the founder of Nu-Yar, a no-nonsense business consulting company that works with committed business owners and executive teams. The experience she draws upon in helping leaders comes from being a real-world business owner herself. The heart of any good strategic planning process is not in the organization of the “planning event” itself or even in the slogans or campaigns devised from the discussion. The heart of real and powerful strategic planning is the people who will implement that plan. Getting them engaged and vested in the plan is the missing piece for most companies. Symptoms that your organization may need to develop a strategic plan? Michelle points out that the symptoms that indicate the need for effective strategic planning can be varied. Not only that but every organization — due to its unique history and culture — will manifest the need for a comprehensive strategic plan in equally unique ways. Some of the most common indicators that strategic planning is needed are things such as revenue plateaus, internal systems that are outdated or that no longer work, or a lack of clarity about where the organization is going and why. I believe that even though plateaus and broken systems are perhaps the leading indicators of the need for strategic planning, there is another fairly common occurrence that is symptomatic of a more vital problem — poor morale among the organization’s team. Work engagements that make a difference are not only those that turn a profit for the organization or enable it to reach its corporate goals. The thing that matters even more is the health and happiness of all the “cogs” in the inner workings of the organizational machinery. If they are not well lubricated, then those cogs (team members) who are unhappy or unfulfilled will eventually break, which will cripple the entire organizational machine. Strategic planning is about more than an annual revision of goals While organizations definitely need to revisit goals they have previously set to assess whether the goals were accomplished and/or whether they should have been set in the first place, that is not the focus of strategic planning. Strategic planning is aimed at a bigger target. Its objective is to set the course for the organization and to disseminate that direction throughout the organization’s team members in actionable ways. Sadly, it’s that last part that is missed in strategic planning much of the time. Vision and direction are great, but only if those who are expected to make it happen understand it and are on board with making it happen. Leadership development as part of the strategic planning framework Smaller organizations often discover that in the rush and hurry that often accompanies rapid growth they have simply been scrambling to keep their heads above water. This means they’ve hired friends or relatives, have patched up systems and processes on the fly at times, and in other words have done whatever was necessary to keep the business running. But as they grow, they begin to realize that the rush to meet customer demands without much thought for long-term strategy has put them into a difficult position. For example, startup founders often discover that once the company is profitable and in need of growth, it can’t grow because roles are not clearly defined, systems are not optimized or well-implemented, and long-tenured team members may not be in the right positions to enable the business to move forward. This is where strategic planning needs to be done. It enables the organization to move toward the future in positive ways, and an important part of that strategic planning framework needs to include the development of leaders to fill key roles that will be needed as the business grows. An organization can only rise to the level of its leaders, so preparing for growth means equipping future leaders ahead of time. Communicating strategic plans to your team in personal ways As mentioned previously, strategic plans will only be effective long-term when the plan is one that the team implementing the plan is enthused about and vested in. Building culture and values that serve the team as well as the customer is not easy, but it’s vital — and doing so in a way that is integrated into the “what and how” of the strategic plan is difficult at best.  It can be accomplished better when the team is consulted at the outset of the strategic planning process. Those who fill the roles that will carry out the plan — from customer service and sales professionals, all the way to the back-office administrative help — need to be asked for their input regarding the things that are holding the company back, what is stifling its ability to flourish, and on a more personal note, how their happiness is affected by the working environment of the organization. When this kind of sharing is received and taken seriously, the right kind of forward motion can take place through the planning process.  It’s recommended that strategic plans, once complete, be simplified. Boil the themes down to their most essential components that can be easily understood. Then tie those things to the initial input team members provided. When the team can hear leadership say, “You told us X, so we decided to do Y to solve for that,” they will actually be hearing, “You matter. Your opinion about what we’re doing as a team matters. You are a valuable part of this team and you’re making a difference.” Listen to hear how Michelle has helped organizations walk the strategic planning path, engage team members in it, and enlist them in implementation. Outline of This Episode [3:15] Michelle’s life and business journey [10:28] The typical client Michelle serves — and why it’s her sweet spot [17:24] Common roadblocks to the strategic planning process [21:40] The need for leadership development in the strategic planning process [27:02] Communicating strategic plans in personal ways Resources & People Mentioned Zig Ziglar Norman Vincent Peale Les Brown Connect with Michelle Neujahr Michelle’s coaching website: Follow Michelle on LinkedIn Follow Michelle on Twitter: @michelleneujahr Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
The United States is unique in many ways, but interestingly, one of those ways is that it is a bit behind when it comes to supporting mental health through the workplace. I speak often about the importance of creating mutually meaningful work engagements and there is no better context for that discussion than that of brain health. My guest on this episode is Michelle E Dickinson. She’s a mental health advocate who has walked a path through what she calls a “mental health trifecta” that has guided her to a place of support, encouragement, and training for those interested in making the workplace a more supportive place for those struggling with mental health issues. Sadly, mental health still carries a stigma in Western culture, one that can and should be eliminated through education, compassion, and trust. It’s my hope that you’ll continue reading to discover what is being done and can be done to help American corporations and organizations become better equipped to support employees when it comes to their mental health. Why is the United States behind other nations in supporting mental health in the workplace? Canada and Australia for example, are far ahead of the United States when it comes to workplace initiatives that not only support but provide for the mental health support of employees. These initiatives are part of the overall inclusion strategies of most companies and turn out to be much more than a simple employee benefit. They are aimed at making their employees more productive and fulfilled through better care for them as individual human beings. One of the reasons the United States is not as far along is that for years mental health issues have been an invisible disability, something that people suffering from mental health challenges are ashamed to share. Or, those supporting a family member with mental health issues often feel unable to reveal the issue for fear of embarrassing or shaming their family member. When organizational leaders bravely take the first step, talking about these issues from their own experience, it sets the stage for those within the organization to willingly open up about their struggles too. While it may seem strange for this to happen in a working environment, it is a key component to developing a culture of trust and inclusiveness where mutually meaningful work engagements are possible.  When business performance overshadows compassion, we get into trouble Companies are in business to make money and to provide valuable services to their clients or customers. Employee performance is a key factor in making those outcomes a reality. But today’s leaders are learning that a healthy company culture — which is the environment in which optimal performance happens — is vital to top performance for everyone within the organization. Company cultures that are unwilling to recognize the real-life struggles of their team members — like mental health issues — become self-defeating. The trust that is foundational for the development of high-performing teams simply can’t happen if an individual's life situations are ignored or unaddressed. Leaders must express care for the members of their team if the team as a whole is to thrive. I guess I’m talking about "compassion-first" leaders. Michelle says it this way, “When business performance trumps compassion, we get into trouble.” That is a leadership responsibility. Why leaders must learn to couple compassion with trust Put yourself in the following situation: You have a challenging life situation going on and it’s requiring such high levels of mental and emotional bandwidth that you are having a hard time keeping up with responsibilities at work. It’s probably not a stretch for most of us to imagine. We’ve probably been there. Now change the scenario slightly and imagine the issue you’re dealing with is a mental health issue. If your boss at work is a person who is solely results-oriented, they could be the type who is often heard to say, “I don’t want excuses, I want results.” Ask yourself a few questions: “Do I feel comfortable sharing what’s going on in my personal life with my boss? If not, why not?” The answer is likely that you don’t feel that he/she would express compassion for you and the situation you’re enduring, which in turn, makes it impossible for you to feel any level of trust toward them. Leaders who cannot express compassion toward the sometimes all-consuming issues their team members are going through will find it impossible to build an environment of trust. And without trust, employee fulfillment and morale will decline and retention will be a continual problem. It’s not a beneficial road to be on for the company or team members. What kind of training is needed to make your organization supportive of mental health issues? During this conversation, Michelle described a program that is designed to help organizational leaders create a mutually meaningful work environment in view of mental health issues. Her area of expertise is to help forward-thinking organizations create safe and compassionate workplace cultures so they can improve engagement, retention, and productivity — especially as it relates to supporting mental health. The good news is that any organization can make strides toward improvement in supporting the mental health of its team members. It requires… A clear commitment to foster a culture of inclusion for those with invisible disabilities (mental health issues). It starts with leaders at the highest level and is expressed through compassionate corporate policies The company also needs to be committed to providing legitimate and easily accessible mental health support, not just as an employee benefit, but also in the form of relational support Naturally, everyone within the company needs education or training, especially those who are in leadership roles There are also options for developing employee-driven peer support programs where those who have experienced mental health challenges come alongside others who are currently walking those same paths Michelle makes it clear that no company is going to develop the ability to support mental health overnight, but that steps in the right direction go a long way in developing the trust necessary to support such initiatives and set them up for success. My hope is that more and more companies within the United States will adopt this compassionate model when it comes to supporting mental health for their employees. Naturally, those in positions of leadership have to set the example and start the forward motion. As a leader or emerging leader, what can you do in your organization to help your company move toward becoming one that is known for supporting mental health in its team members? Outline of This Episode [2:02] An overview of Michelle’s career in the pharmaceutical industry [3:47] Why Michelle decided to write her book, “Breaking Into My Life” [8:52] How organizational leadership can make a huge difference [13:10] The example set by Canada and Australia for workplace mental health care [17:17] A program oriented toward educating youth about the issue of brain health [22:01] The peer program Michelle has created and the impact it’s having [28:10] How organizations can set the stage for good mental health support [31:47] Corporate missteps to learn from in building better practices Connect with Michelle E. Dickinson - see the video about the youth program mentioned Michelle on Twitter: @MDickinson13 Follow Michelle on LinkedIn Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK  
Nonprofit leadership is something I admittedly have less experience with than I do with leadership in other contexts. But I think we all recognize that being a leader of a nonprofit carries with it a unique set of leadership challenges. Thinking through the needs of the nonprofit sector, I can think of no area where the need for dynamic and effective leaders is more pressing. I believe there may be no greater place for leaders to have an impact than in these organizations that serve the communities where people raise families and make their homes. My guest on this episode is Valerie F. Leonard. Valerie is the Founder of Nonprofit Utopia, a training and leadership development organization focused exclusively on equipping those tasked with leadership in the nonprofit sector. Her own experience led her to the realization that there was a great need for leadership development among those with the vision to start nonprofits. So, she decided to do something about it. Nonprofits serve in many ways, but those that work in neighborhoods within larger urban areas have significant challenges. In these communities, skilled workers and professionals have often moved out of the area in search of work that matches their abilities. That winds up causing the community itself to become a victim of neglect and lack of resources. The need for effective leadership in nonprofits that serve these communities is clear and the opportunity to create mutually meaningful work engagements for those who serve as paid staff and volunteers is just as pressing as in the for-profit world. Nonprofit leaders face generational challenges Those classified as “Baby Boomers” have typically engaged with nonprofits from a distance, contributing to their favorite organizations and causes and enjoying the updates and newsletters they receive. But they tend to stay separate from the operations and organization of the nonprofit, for the most part. With the rise of the Millennial generation, all that is changing. Millennials appear to prefer a more “hands-on” approach when it comes to engagement with nonprofits. They do seem to be willing to give money, but just as often prefer to give their time and energy, taking an active hand in carrying out the tasks the nonprofit performs. This is welcome news on some fronts, volunteers are always needed at most nonprofits. But it’s also a challenge—nonprofit leadership is now faced with managing volunteers who are also donors. You can imagine the challenges already, can’t you? Nonprofit leaders are tasked with uncommon organizational and financial responsibilities Imagine yourself being passionate about a cause or need in your community, so much so that you are considering starting a nonprofit to address the issues you see. It sounds great and is undoubtedly a noble and potentially impacting endeavor, but how many people in those shoes are truly equipped to fill the role? It’s harder than you think. For example... Leaders of for-profit companies typically segment the leadership of their organization into specialized roles - Chief Executive Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Sales Officer, etc., all paid positions supported by sales of products or services. But the nonprofit sector is different in that most senior leaders wear many hats and are paid (if at all) through donations. And the hats they wear are often things they’ve never had to do before. When you consider that the primary leader of most nonprofits is the person who typically meets with potential donors, casts the vision for the organization, and keeps things running smoothly from a cash flow perspective, you can see the issue clearly. Valerie saw these needs through her work as a consultant. She served upcoming nonprofit leaders on an individual basis and realized that the learning curve was quite steep. In fact, in many cases, it was insurmountable without help. That’s why she launched her own organization, Nonprofit Utopia. Its website describes the organization as “the ideal community for emerging nonprofit leaders who want to take their organizations to the next level. We have created a safe environment in which our members can innovate, speak candidly about the issues and concerns they face on a daily basis, and share ideas and resources.” With Valerie’s guidance, the community is delivering on that promise. What is required of nonprofit leadership to provide mutually meaningful work engagements? In addition to everything noted thus far, nonprofit leaders deal with a very interesting mix of team members. To start off, there is a continuum of sorts upon which those team members reside - at one end are paid staff who function according to actual job descriptions and have clear roles. At the other end of said continuum are volunteers who may or may not have the same clarity but sometimes may have even more responsibility. How do those in nonprofit leadership hold paid staff and volunteers accountable equally, when one has the leverage of a steady paycheck built-in by default and the other does not? What about inspiration and motivation? Does a leader go about it differently when dealing with volunteers than they would if everyone on the team was compensated? Valerie says that one of the key components of effective nonprofit leadership has to do with consistently holding out the vision of the organization. Everyone who works for and with a nonprofit is behind the cause the organization is addressing already, so this "common goal" seems a natural place to start. The leader’s role is largely to help team members—paid or not—stay connected to exactly how their particular tasks fit into the fulfillment of the organization’s mission, and how they directly impact the people the organization is helping, equipping, or serving. In this way, both leadership and those they lead can receive fulfillment and meaning from the work they do while serving their constituents well.  Listen to this episode to hear how Valerie and the team at Nonprofit Utopia are making a difference in the lives of rising nonprofit leaders, and how they help them create mutually meaningful work engagements for their teams. Outline of This Episode [5:20] The difference between Baby Boomer and Millennials’ involvement in non profits [13:44] Motivations behind working with NPOs [20:12] The difficulty of “selling” not for profit work compared to commercial enterprises [23:45] Why Valerie started Non Profit Utopia [26:56] How do we make NPO volunteers work truly meaningful Connect with Valerie Leonard Nonprofit Utopia Valerie on LinkedIn Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK  
Innovators are not the people we typically think of when we imagine those who create meaning and purpose in the workplace. Innovators are the ones on the edge, the ones coming up with great ideas and solutions to real-world problems, the ones pioneering discoveries and technologies that advance or disrupt entire industries. But the best innovators are the ones who not only create meaning but who have a deeper sense of purpose and human good in mind from the start. My guest on this episode is April Shprintz, a high-energy woman who comes alongside those who are already moving in the direction of their dreams but desire to reach them faster. She specializes in accelerating the growth of those dreams and help people realize how possible it is to achieve their goals and surpass their limits. In this conversation, we talk about how April discovered her gifts as an “accelerator” and what that’s meant for the development of her career. Then we turn a corner to discuss how those who are gifted as innovators can focus their energies beyond iterating within their area of expertise, to provide deep meaning and purpose for those who are on the journey with them. People who express belief in others, create meaning for them We all have defining moments, experiences that show us who we are and what we are capable of becoming. But it’s only as we embrace the truths those moments have to teach us that we can move in a new direction and accomplish the things we were meant to do. Often, we are unable to recognize those truths about ourselves for ourselves, we need others to point them out for us. When April was 9 years old, the company her mother worked for gave her the option to enter an alcohol treatment program. It was a turning point in April’s life because of a woman she met during that time of great transition. That woman was named Sue, and she worked at her mother’s workplace. Sue came to their home, met April, and spoke words of hope into April’s life. April says that up to that point, she had always wanted to do great things but had no reason to believe she’d ever be able to do so. The words that Sue spoke created meaning for April to see and hang onto. Who are the people who have spoken into your life, who have given you hope and belief in yourself? Take the time to remember those moments, to touch the emotions you felt at that moment. Can you see the truth of what they said to you? How is what that person said reflected in your life today? Are there ways you can amplify it even more to fulfill the meaning and purpose of your life in greater ways? Innovators can create meaning through the cutting-edge work they do “An innovator is someone who is looking to do things in a better way. They’re that person who never thinks they’ve reached the pinnacle of who they can be, what they can give, what their service level can be for their customers. They are always asking, ‘How can we be better? What can we do more of?’ “ ~ April Shprintz Given that definition of innovation, let’s think for a moment about how those who innovate in their particular niche or industry have the opportunity to create meaning for themselves and those around them. Innovation and creativity flow out of a place of personal purpose. When innovators can recognize that and become aware of the deeper meaning and purpose of what their work is about, they can be even more intentional about magnifying the meaning in what they are doing. This sort of meaning-fueled intentionality is going to spill over on everyone involved in the project. They will recognize that the work they are doing is about more than the new technology or business approach they are pioneering. It’s about the benefits to real people who the innovation will touch. Innovators specialize in the kind of change needed to make work meaningful  Perhaps the primary thing that makes innovators able to do what they do is the mindset they have about life. The average person sees something that doesn’t suit them or doesn’t please them and complains. Innovators experience the same things and wonder, “How can I change this to make it better?” When we apply that mindset to the task of making work more meaningful, it seems obvious that innovators can be of great help. What might it look like to pull together the innovators within your workplace to take a deeper look at the level and quality of the work relationships within your organization? Are there ways they can see—that perhaps others have not—that can create a better environment for cultivating mutually meaningful work relationships? Every leader and every business is in the business of serving Once you realize that your business exists to serve the needs and wants of your customers, you will begin to see that you have the opportunity to create meaning and purpose for your customers both through what you provide them and in the WAY you provide it. But that last part doesn’t happen by default. Team morale and business culture are what fuel it. If your team is not experiencing meaning in what they do, they won’t have the capacity to communicate meaning to your customers. Leaders, creating mutually meaningful work engagements has far-reaching impact. You have it within your power to create meaning for your team, day after day, year after year through this thing we call “work.” But beyond that, you’re able to empower those team members to create meaning for those you serve through your business—and it all hinges on leadership. Your leadership. April shares many valuable insights on this episode, including her thoughts on how organizational philanthropy sets the stage for leaders or organizations to infuse even more meaning into what they do, so don’t miss it. Outline of This Episode [2:53] How April discovered that she was a “business accelerator” - at 6 years of age [6:25] An experience as a 9-year old that defined much of who April is [12:40] Aprils’ definition of an “Innovator” [13:30] How innovators create meaning in what they do [20:42] The limiting beliefs that hold innovators back most [23:08] How business grow stronger by giving back in meaningful ways [28:05] April’s three-part acceleration profile Connect with April Shprintz April’s website (one of the best I’ve seen): April on LinkedIn April on Twitter: @AShprintz Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK  
When it comes to being an effective leader and developer of other leaders, there are no better skills to learn than those centering around body language - you could say this post is about “body language for leaders.” It’s a powerful skill set that can be used to bring greater clarity to conversations, to gain deeper insight into people, and to make work mutually meaningful in all kinds of ways. My guest on this episode is Scott Rouse, a leading expert in body language and non-verbal communication. Scott’s skills in this area were honed through a path of intentional education about the things that make non-verbal communication so powerful - both positively and negatively.  Keep reading to learn more about how body language can be used by leaders to amplify the meaning of work, invest in team members, and make the workplace a more fulfilling environment. An early experience in observation and body-language skills Scott Rouse remembers growing up in a community where his father was one of the only doctors. He watched, literally in awe, as his father demonstrated mastery of observation and non-verbal communication. The way he helped his patients cope with illness and enjoy a happier experience even in a physician’s office was remarkable. Scott tells an amazing story of sharing lunch with his father during a visit to his father’s office at the small hospital where he worked. When Scott - then 6 years old - noticed two classmates in the waiting room, he asked his father why they were there. His father explained the reason each of them was in the waiting room - including one who was feigning illness because he didn’t want to go to school. That doesn’t sound so amazing until you learn that his father had yet to see or speak to either of them. It was his father’s methodical explanation of how he was able to read their body language and the clues that were apparent in their mothers’ demeanors that convinced Scott that the “magic” of non-verbal communication and observation was something he wanted to learn for himself. Join me for this episode to hear more of Scott’s incredible stories and his advice on how you can learn to observe body language for the purpose of enhancing the quality of your team relationships and workplace interactions. The medical profession once understood the importance of bedside manner As an adult, Scott Rouse was diagnosed with cancer and everything in his life changed, even his career. He didn’t turn to a different career because of limitations forced by his illness, he made the switch intentionally because of a negative experience he had in his Doctor’s office while receiving treatment. That experience revealed that Scott had something valuable to offer the medical profession. He would go on to help medical practitioners swept up in the technological and “big business” nature of the medical profession get back to a people-first approach to patient care. Body language for leaders is about caring for followers, not manipulation Scott’s story is inspiring simply because he is an example of someone who saw a way he could make a particular industry better for those it served and took action to do so. The same could be said for you as a leader - no matter what industry you are in. The influence you have as a leader can be used for good, to make your workplace into an environment where those you lead are happy to be and enthused to return to. You can learn body language and the power of observation to enhance your ability to listen, understand, and lead the people under your care. Eye contact, appropriate touch, empathetic facial expressions, and more are skills you can master so that you can build up the people you lead, encourage their progress and growth, and establish a rapport that pays dividends in your working environment and in the lives and ongoing career success of those you lead. One caution: Don’t buy the myths surrounding body language Hollywood has contributed to the myths people believe about what can be discerned through body language, So have many badly researched blog posts and news stories. Leaders need to know the truth about body language skills so they can make decisions that are truly informed and beneficial to their organizations and teams. The main thing to keep in mind is this, no matter how skilled you become at picking up on non-verbal signals and observing body language, it’s still not going to be an exact science. You are dealing with people, not machines or animals that function according to instinct alone. People are complicated and can’t be “figured out” that simply. Do what you can to learn body language clues and use them for good. But don’t use them as a tool to quickly label or diagnose things going on in your work environment. The relationships with the people you lead are based on much more than that - and true leadership is rooted in the relationships you have with those you lead. Outline of This Episode [3:16] How a cancer diagnosis changed the trajectory of Scott’s career [13:39] The fulfillment of helping people avoid fearful situations in the medical profession [17:07] Brain chemistry’s effects on body language and perceptions [23:43] When body language doesn’t match what’s being said [27:40] Discerning sincerity through body language [34:20] The common misconceptions about understanding body language Resources & People Mentioned Study: The Eyes Don’t Have It Connect with Scott Rouse Scott’s Website: Scott Rouse Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK  
Those who work in the field of corporate learning and development are uniquely positioned to add tremendously to both the culture and the efficiency of a company. Theirs is a role that equips and facilitates skill development for everyone on the team. When done right, it’s a role that can greatly enhance the mutually meaningful work engagements within the business. My guest today is a corporate learning and development professional. Christopher Lind is head of Global Digital Learning at GE Healthcare. He is accountable for the digital transformation of learning and talent development GE Healthcare’s global commercial and marketing teams. His experience and his education make him the perfect guest to speak about the power of mutually meaningful work engagements in the wake of the digital revolution we are experiencing currently. I hope you join us for this episode. Corporate learning and development is changing daily If you’ve been in a corporate work environment for any length of time, you understand the role of the learning and development department. They are the people responsible to create and implement training for a variety of disciplines across the organization. If you’ve been involved in corporate training of any type you were likely participating in something the corporate learning and development team had its hands on. But if that training happened more than a few years ago, Christopher Lind says you should probably throw away your concept of what it entails, because it’s likely changed. Today’s technology has empowered learning and development (L&D) to a greater degree, enabling all kinds of learning environments and tools to take the place of long, in-person meetings that slow down work and in many cases are not entirely effective. Listen to this episode to hear the changes and challenges facing L&D. E-learning and Digital Learning Development are different When E-learning was first coming on the scene, most virtual or distance learning platforms were attempts at cramming the classroom into a PowerPoint deck as an E-learning course. For real learning to take place much more is needed. The classroom interaction and mentoring that happens in a live environment is missing entirely in that scenario - and it’s not what digital L&D is aiming at. The digital approach to Corporate Learning and Development is about looking at all the different ways to achieve outcomes and adding to the existing approaches. Technology has changed the rules about how learning can be done and out of all the specialities within a company, the L&D team has a great opportunity to make use of it.  At the core of great L&D is the ability to deconstruct what learning looks like with a view toward figuring out what elements of the education process work and what aspects need to be modified or removed. It’s about doing everything better so that team members can be better equipped and bring their unique skills to their work. Current trouble spots in the way corporate L&D is done  Christopher says that many Learning and Development practices are not effective because those leading the way get caught up in tactics and delivery platforms, forgetting what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to achieve it. In his words, “If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, there’s no way you’ll be able to hit it. When L&D practices are stuck in the past or focused on the wrong things rather than accurately assessing the outcomes needed to meet company goals, another gap opens up - L&D begins to miss the need people have to engage in actual experiences that facilitate learning. This happens because Learning and Development has its origins in academia, so many of the methods commonly used in the classroom are what are still implemented in L&D programs. That means they are often content focused - which doesn’t provide the hands-on experiences that are effective and needed. With the digital age comes many challenges for L&D When it comes to mutually meaningful work engagements, the Corporate Learning and Development arena has unique challenges to address. Many people who were previously happy working in Learning and Development roles are finding that the advent of digital is causing them to lose their enthusiasm for the roles they fill - because the nature of those roles is changing. For example, Christopher says that many people got into L&D because they didn’t like technology - and now they can’t avoid it as digital becomes more and more critical to how L&D does its work.  Another challenge L&D faces is the stereotype that “learning people” are a certain way or that those who work in the realm of corporate L&D have a limited or specific skill set. Digital has expanded the needs of L&D exponentially. It is now one of the most dynamic and diverse industries there is. Designers, data analysts, instructors, and more are needed as part of a growing L&D team - and the rewarding nature of these roles could bring greater job satisfaction to many who are looking for a more people-oriented or personally satisfying role within their company. Join me for this great conversation with Christopher Lind, on this episode of The Development Exponent. Outline of This Episode [1:03] Getting to know Christopher Lind [5:20] How parenting 5 children relates to Learning and Talent Development [6:50] Who is the targeted customer of an L&D professional? [9:10] The most needed but missing things in L&D  [23:45] How Learing and Development is one of the most dynamic industries [27:25] A defining “toe to toe” moment in Christopher’s career [33:40] Data shows how L&D can help provide mutually meaningful work engagements Connect with Christopher Linkd Connect with Christopher on LinkedIn Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Good leadership - and the development of leadership skills in others - is predicated on fundamentals that are vital to the role. These basics are things we hear mentioned often but if we are honest, few of us have mastered them to the point that they bring clarity and focus to our leadership and lives. What are these fundamentals? Goal setting, prioritization, and action. Keep reading to find out how to put these fundamentals to work as a leader and as one who develops leaders. My guest on this episode, Scott Carley, is known in the leadership and business consulting arena as “The Change Energizer.” He likes to focus people on the energy and possibilities that flow out of these fundamentals. He’s especially skilled at helping team leaders and entrepreneurs restore the buzz that they once had. He does this by addressing the issues that are keeping them from being focused and organized - and he does this in a way that propels them toward the accomplishment of their goals. Scott once served as a minister and church growth consultant - both roles that pursue the development of environments where those involved can find deeper meaning. Given his background in those areas, I was particularly interested to hear Scott's perspective. Join me for this episode of The Development Exponent. Are you missing this fundamental component of good leadership? Leaders can only lead when they are clear about the goals their teams are pursuing. But sadly, even the best leaders can have trouble setting effective goals. Goal setting is of paramount importance and as leaders, we must be able to discern the right goals and establish a plan to reach them. How do we do that? Scott suggests a few things to help individuals and organizations get clear on the goals they should be pursuing. First, let’s ask a simple question. “If a national news organization pulled up to your house with a mobile studio three years from now and wanted to interview you about the great success you’ve achieved, what would that success be?” In words relating to our topic - what are the things that you want to happen in your life or organization in the next three years? A question like this is helpful it enables us to imagine the outcome we most want to experience and get clear on what it will take to actually get there. Put simply, it helps us define our goals and begin the process of determining a course to accomplish it. The one thing that defines true leaders: Action We’ve all known or have even worked under a leader who we weren't thrilled about following. Why is that the case when they have the title and position of a leader? What’s the issue? Honest, genuine leadership is not predicated on a title or an appointment. In fact, titles are the least effective portion of leadership. Leaders are people who take action when needs arise. They are the ones who pull others together to meet needs and reach goals. To be clear, the action I’m talking about is not that of barking out orders or dictating a set of goals to be attained. True leaders value those they lead, so they work with them to bring out their best and accomplish the mutual goals of the group. Leaders step into the void of varied agendas and uncertain destinations and coordinate a collaborative effort between individuals. When this is done well it leads to meaning and fulfillment for everyone involved - and its the hallmark of a true leader. 3 steps to clarify your vision as a leader and as a person Scott was incredibly generous in the insights and stories he shared from his many years as a leader and business consultant. As we wrapped up the episode he outlined three steps to clarifying vision and achieving goals. STEP ONE: Write down where you want to be in 3 years. It’s important to get dreams out of your head and onto paper. That's the only way you can look at it, work with it, and refine it. Until you can envision your goal clearly you are not going to get there. This is an area where leaders and decision-makers within organizations need to lead the way. STEP TWO: Define your priorities. Very simply, this is asking the question, “What’s most important?” When you or your team are able to clearly define the most important things to the attainment of your goal, you’ll be able to determine where energy needs to be expended, where resources need to be dedicated, and where team members can be best utilized - and if you’re able to do that in ways that allow team members to contribute in alignment with their skills and gifting, you’ll create mutually meaningful work engagements like never before. STEP THREE: Take action. Clear goals and priorities are wonderful, but only if you develop a plan that enables you and your team to execute on them. The more priority-based action you take toward your clearly defined goals, the more success you will experience. You’ll be making the most of the aspirations and creativity of your team so that you can bring your goals into reality together. Outline of This Episode [1:22] Meet Scott Carley - The Change Energizer [5:24] The change from Church Growth Consultant to Business Consultant  [7:29] Why we should think of getting “energized” rather than thinking about “changing” [10:01] Several defining moments from Scott’s life [19:12] Examples of the importance of a clear vision from a very unlikely place [24:40] Steps to apply the moment you stop listening to this episode Resources & People Mentioned The National Speakers Association Business Network International Mary Kay Cosmetics Connect with Scott Carley - Get Scott’s “Secret Sauce” to get yourself moving Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
Happy Holidays to you!

Happy Holidays to you!

Most of us are not as familiar with the term “self leadership” as we are with the idea of leadership in general. That’s because we typically think of leadership as something we do that is directed toward others, be they followers or emerging leaders. My guest for this episode of the podcast has literally written a book on the concept - and it’s a topic that I think you’re going to resonate with. Why? Because a commitment to personal growth and development is what’s behind the concept of self leadership and I know that my podcast listeners are people who are very interested in that topic. Join me as I speak with Derek Deprey - a husband, father, and the Director of People & Service for the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC). There, he’s responsible for teaching over 1,000 team members the core principles of leadership, training, and personal development. Self leadership in a nutshell: a commitment to personal growth Every leader knows intuitively that they must be growing themselves if they have any hope of leading others well. But even with that being the case, there are many who have never made a commitment to themselves that they will be intentional about their growth. Those who lead themselves well see the importance of things like Core Values, Personal Vision Statements, and the implementation of behaviors that make growth happen. They aren’t content with being comfortable - in fact, those who we might call “masters” of self leadership often put themselves into uncomfortable places intentionally. In this conversation, you’ll hear Derek describe how that has been the case for him and how a very uncomfortable situation where he experienced an epic fail put him on the path to self leadership and personal growth. A key question to ask yourself regularly... Those who are adept at self leadership are not willing to accept the status quo in their own lives. They dig deep to find the things in themselves that are holding them back or in need of change. A question that Derek asks himself often to help him discern what those areas might be is this… “What is bothering me that I’m putting off?” When we honestly ask questions of that nature we will find lots of things rising to the surface in answer to the question…, projects that need to be done, books that need to be read or written, opportunities at work we’ve been slow to take on, and more. But at the root of those we’ll find the deeper things we’re really after: fears, doubts, and plain old procrastination. Those skilled at self leadership place a bullseye on those limitations and obstacles and one at a time begin picking them off - leading themselves into a place of growth by doing so. Self leaders work toward, work-life fusion instead of work-life balance If you take the time to Google the phrase “work-life balance” you’ll find 600 million results returned. Clearly, many people are curious about the topic and many others are creating resources to address it. One aspect of what goes into leading yourself toward a healthy lifestyle in regards to work and home life is this: complementary values. When the things that you value in your personal life guide you as they should, you’ll view every opportunity at work through the lens of those values. That means that when you consider a new position or role at work or a new employment opportunity, you need to bring those personal values to bear on your decision. Your personal values should not compete with the values required of you in that position. Those who lead themselves well maintain this commitment and bring work and life together into a meaningful combination. What’s more important than finding your passion? Finding your meaning These days people often express a longing to find the thing they are passionate about, the thing that will motivate them to work hard, serve, and make a difference in the world. But passion is prone to waxing and waning if there is not something more substantial beneath it. Derek Deprey rightly points out that it’s more important to find your meaning than it is to find your passion. It’s a nuance to be sure, but one that’s important to understand. When you can see the meaning in what you’re doing, it will sustain you over the long haul even when the job at hand is difficult or wearisome. Knowing that you are making a difference in ways that matter to you personally makes all the difference. Outline of This Episode [3:27] Derek’s own frustration prompted him to write himself out of it [4:17] Why the concept of “self leadership” is so vital to good leadership of people [5:35] How Derek’s book writing process unfolded [8:27] One key question: “What am I putting off that’s bothering me?” [11:42] The professional crash that set Derek on a new path of success [23:08] Specific leadership roles Derek fulfills at Wisconsin Athletic Club [24:49] The leadership bootcamp program Derek oversees [29:08] Follow-up received for attendees of a leadership bootcamp [33:12] How Derek pulls everything together to integrate it in his life [36:03] To Derek, there’s something more important than finding your passion Resources & People Mentioned BOOK: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership BOOK: The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy Connect with Derek Deprey Derek’s Website: Derek’s book: Shift Follow Derek on LinkedIn Follow Derek on Twitter: @DerekDeprey Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
After our recent programming pause, I stated we would begin including more solo episodes. This week I am providing a road map for how we will deliver those to you in three sequential parts.  What is a Mutually Meaningful Work Engagement (MMWE)? Why is creating Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements (MMWEs) important? How do you develop leaders to create Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements (MMWEs)? The WHAT In this first part we will take a much more detailed look at what MMWEs are so that you will have a keener understanding of how the pieces interconnect with each other. We will be addressing what MMWEs mean from the perspectives of the employee, the employee’s leader, and the organization. I expect one episode being dedicated to the WHAT. The WHY In the second part we will again go into greater detail regarding why the MMWE is important to (and for) employees, leaders, and organizations. We will also add a fourth stakeholder. I expect one to two episodes being dedicated to the WHY. The HOW In part three we will offer many episodes relating to HOW to develop leaders to create Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements. We will provide powerful tips, tactics, and approaches taken across a variety of topics and subtopics which we have taken with our clients. In addition to providing those tips, tactics, and approaches, this third part will: Blend in episodes relating to current events and their relationship to developing leaders to create MMWEs. Elaborate on topics from past guest episodes. Share thought-provoking previews of episodes to come There will also be a little social experiment with which you may become involved and, pending your approval, I will share those results on our podcast. Frequency and Format I’d like to tell you that these solo episodes will occur at a set frequency, however, I do try to be respectful and not have guests wait unreasonable amounts of time to hear their episode. Therefore, there may be one or more guest episodes between the solo episodes. I will do my best to keep them coming at a reasonable frequency! These solo podcasts, as before, will be relatively shorter than our average guest episodes. Many listeners have expressed an appreciation for both the longer and shorter formats. I encourage you to listen to both as time permits. Remember, you always have the option of reading show notes to stay abreast of what we are covering. I’m excited about bringing you this three-part solo series and diving into the very important topic of Developing Leaders to Create Mutually Meaningful Work Engagements. As always, please let me know if you’d like to be a guest on the show or know someone who might be a great fit for our message! We love your recommendations! To truly understand the value of developing leaders to create mutually meaningful work engagements, you have to know the what, why, and how of the topic. #leadership #contractedleadership Work engagements need to be mutually meaningful for everyone - employees and organizations. #ContractedLeadership #mutuallymeaningfulworkengagements
Connect With Bruce Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Subscribe to The Development Exponent ON THIS EPISODE Servant Leadership theory is a concept that became wildly popular for a time after the publication of Robert Greenleaf’s 1970 essay entitled, “The Servant As Leader.” But while intriguing, the theory can be empty without a flesh and blood example, so I’m tremendously thankful that on this episode of the podcast I get to introduce you to a man who embodies the concept. Jim Britt is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, where he has been part of the team since 2010. He’s also served on the teams of other influential organizations such as Ensynch, ConocoPhillips, and Motorola. Jim’s life and leadership lessons are those that come from being in the trenches. He's the kind of guy who does the hard work necessary to grow in both his personal and professional lives. His servant leadership and life, in general, will serve you well as you endeavor to continue your leadership development, so I invite you to listen. Outline of This Episode [1:01] There are multiple reasons I have invited Jim Britt to be my guest on this episode [4:30] The impact having 4 children across a wide age span impacts Jim’s attitude [8:43] Is the focus to be work-life balance or work-life synchrony? [15:28] Why mentoring is a win-win if it is done right [20:02] An account of once when the light came on for a mentee [24:43] The defining moment from Jim’s past that explains who he is [29:08] Value comes from understanding the stories of others [32:35] 3 actions you can take immediately after hearing this episode  Connect with Jim Britt Jim on LinkedIn Audio Production and Show notes by PODCAST FAST TRACK
What drew me immediately to Brianna Rooney, CEO of and the Millionaire Recruiter, was her ability to develop a thriving business, get results from her matchmaking system for recruiters, and still make family an absolute priority. Her team’s approach to the highly competitive field of recruiting is unlike what I’ve seen with most recruiters -- right down to her philosophy about that competition. “I don’t find other recruiters to be competitors,” she shared. “I want us all to come together to have a more well-respected industry.” That’s why she pours time and resources into providing some of the most comprehensive recruiting training in the business. That’s leadership. I asked her about early challenges and was surprised to learn that her launch into the recruiting space and business ownership was without the usual pitfalls. Her business was up and running fast and she had her first deal in the first month. Challenges didn’t really arise until she was two and a half years in and realized this was more than a small business that she ran out of her room. This was a growing entity that she had to treat like the burgeoning business it was. I am a firm believer that there’s a very big difference between being serious about starting a business and taking your business seriously. The people that fall into the first part but don’t move into the second usually end up in that 85% that don’t make it. Brianna takes it seriously. While she had a passion for being a hands-on recruiter and loved being in the bullpen making things happen with her team – she knew she was hindering the growth of the company because you just cannot (and should not) wear all the hats. Her CEO hat had to take priority for growth to occur. That’s why she took action to put personal and professional development at the top of her to-do list this year and why her company and her team has seen so much transformation. I thought that made for the perfect segue to turn our conversation to our core theme at Contracted Leadership – helping leaders develop mutually meaningful work engagements. From a recruiting client standpoint, creating those experiences starts by ensuring they are matching the right candidates to clients. That matchmaking process often includes a lengthy question and answer session and usually an office tour. What does their career development path look like? What is their interview process and how long does it take? Brianna is a self-proclaimed “nitty gritty” recruiter. Which is exactly what you want to see. “Everyone has to be on the same page,” she shared. I couldn’t agree more. She recently received her certificate in diversity and inclusion so she could add that layer of training on for her recruiters and clients as well. I was interested to find out if she had a defining question that would help her best understand her client’s needs so she could more perfectly match candidates and I love that she said, “Describe your culture and company values and what they mean.” It’s very similar to what we do when we do here with our Contracted Leadership clients. When we embed in an organization, one of our first priorities is to engage with employees and ask, “Tell me what your company values are and what you do to support that?” Sometimes that is a question they can answer swiftly, other times not. Both tell us something about how we can best support the growth of that client and create new paths for those meaningful work engagements. From a recruiting candidate standpoint, utilizing an extensive Q&A process to dig deep into what that person is looking for from their new employer such as what drives them, what industry makes the most sense for them, and even what doesn’t work for them is imperative. With a clear understanding of both sides of the equation, a recruiting team is best able to match wants, needs, personalities, and paths. Next, I wanted to explore the question of creating balance for leaders – especially those with small children. Brianna and I both have kids around the same age, so I wanted her take on the matter. When she had her children, Brianna dropped a day from her work week so that day could be solely spent on family time. She was surprised to later discover that year had become one her best and most productive years. It’s inspiring to know that when your big WHY is your kids and family, we can then get more done in less time, create laser focus, and put systems in place that help us safeguard that priority. When she’s with her kids, her phone is on silent, her focus is on them, and on enjoying and cultivating that quality time that, as she said, “you can’t ever get back once it’s gone”. When she’s at work, she does everything she can to maximize and leverage that time for it’s highest and best purposes. It’s a commitment we both share. For me, I keep a picture of my kids front and center when I’m at work to create that focus on family balance. When I’m at work, I’m completely committed to maximizing my results in that time. My team gets that, gets me, and why that’s so important. My feeling is if time is getting wasted, that’s taking it from them, not just me, and I’m not going to let that happen. While the reality for all leaders, entrepreneurs, and business professionals is that there is never completely equal work/personal/family time, there are many things we can do to ensure the time we spend in each of these areas of our lives are as meaningful as we can make them. Just as many of our Contracted Leadership clients have shared with us through the years, Brianna told us how much an executive coach changed her leadership course. She had a great analogy of how a personal trainer after the birth of her kids gave her the “kick in the butt” she needed to take care of her body but she hadn’t then yet connected the dots of the value of someone providing that “kick in the butt” she needed for her business. She’s now elevated another team member to Chief Growth Officer, and together they are redefining the way they do business, how they interact and create experiences for their team, and make space for everyone to develop the “key moments” that can be game changing personally and professionally. Love that. I also loved the John Bennett quote that she shared that graces her desk and keeps her grounded which says, “Since we tend to see ourselves primarily in the light of our intentions, which are invisible to others, while we see others mainly in the light of their actions, which are all that's visible to us, we have a situation in which misunderstanding and injustice are the order of the day.” What a great reminder, as Brianna shared, “To give each other grace and learn to communicate better, always.” So, what were the top take-aways for leaders and emerging leaders? If you’re going to start your own business, be fearless. Get in that state of doing, not just thinking. The world is always changing, so just roll with it. You’re never done learning. There are so many levels of success, learning helps us to keep reaching for the next one. Know your why – it’s your superpower. For us, it’s family – what is that for YOU? This will be a session that I know I will listen to again. Brianna shared so much engaging and inspired information and insights. I was delighted to have her on as our guest. Now, how will you take these ideas for leadership, synchronicity, and being in a state of constant learning and put them to work in your life and business? Let’s have that conversation! Know your why, it’s your superpower. #leadershiplessons #contractedleadership @BriannaRooney84 To commit to organizational growth, you have to give up a few hats. #leadershiplessons #contractedleadership @BriannaRooney84 True leaders are lifelong learners. #leadershiplessons #contractedleadership @BriannaRooney84
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